How do I Know my Doors and Windows are Truly Impact Resistant?

Buying impact resistant products for your home is a significant investment. Here are some important facts you should consider beforehand.
How do I Know my Doors and Windows are Truly Impact Resistant?

Installing impact resistant windows and doors in your house is one of the best decisions and smarter investments you can make to protect your home and loved ones. Therefore, it’s critical that you educate yourself on the subject to make sure you purchase top quality, impact resistant-certified products that are manufactured and installed by a reputable company.

The design and construction of the windows and doors and the expertise of the company that makes them and install them should greatly influence your purchase decision. In most cases, it’s better to deal directly with manufacturers that make, sell and install their own windows and doors rather than with distributors.

Product Approval and Certifications

While northern states have building codes to protect structures from harsh winters, and western states have strict codes to address the risk of earthquakes, southern states like Florida have implemented building codes to protect structures from hurricanes and heavy rainfall.

In Puerto Rico, building codes that deal with the impact resistance and performance of doors and windows during high-wind events are less stringent. Therefore, products that meet Florida and Miami-Date County’s standards offer significantly superior protection against wind, debris and rain.

When shopping for impact resistant doors and windows, check that the products you are considering meet Florida Product Approval and Miami-Dade NOA standards.

Florida Product Approval

Florida Product Approval is based on the Florida Building Code, which is updated every three years to meet state requirements involving structural strength, stability, energy conservation, ventilation and other standards for high velocity hurricane zone areas (HVHZ). Look for the Florida Product Approval number (FL #) on the product.

Although not required in some areas, installing impact resistant windows and doors that have Florida Product Approval is one way to ensure quality and protection against hurricane-force winds, flying debris and rain.

Florida counties in HVHZ areas, namely Miami-Dade and Broward counties, have building codes that supplant Florida state codes.

Miami-Dade NOA

In Florida, Miami-Dade and Broward counties are classified as HVHZ areas, while the rest of the counties are located in a wind born debris region (WBDR). Miami-Dade and Broward are the only counties that follow Miami-Dade NOA standards for impact resistant doors and windows.

NOA requirements are more rigorous than Florida Product Approval’s requirements. For example, NOA mandates a specific glass separation (minimum separation from the glass when the hurricane screen is under a certain amount wind pressure) that is not required under the state building codes.

Air Master is the only manufacturer in Puerto Rico that has Miami-Dade Notice of Acceptance (NOA) certification against impact and air infiltration—the strictest wind-born debris standard in the world, designed to resist Category 5 hurricane winds. Air Master’s products also are the only ones on the island that meet Florida Product Approval standards, which are based on extremely demanding Florida building codes.

Avoid Certification Scams

Beware of window and door distributors that claim their products are approved for Category 5 hurricanes by the Miami-Dade County in order to fool unsuspecting consumers into buying inferior products.

Before you buy hurricane windows or doors, educate yourself about what makes these products impact resistant and the tests they undergo to obtain state or county approvals and certifications. When negotiating with a distributor, insist on seeing the product approvals or certificates. Better yet, to make sure that you’re getting the real thing, deal directly with the manufacturer.

Impact Tests

You can install so-called impact resistant windows and doors to protect your home, but if those products and their components don’t meet strict building codes and fail impact tests, then they’re not truly impact resistant.

Miami-Dade County impact tests guarantee resistance against severe weather conditions such as Category 5 hurricane winds, flying debris and rain. NOA-certified products are tested to comply with the toughest large missile standards.

1. Windborne Debris Resistance

A glass window is subjected to two impacts from a 2-inch x 4-inch, 8-foot wood missile that weighs about 9 pounds at a speed of 140 mph. For the window to pass the test, the missile cannot penetrate the glass. The glass is compromised, cracking in a spiderweb pattern, but it doesn’t break into shards. The plastic laminate sandwiched between two panes of glass keeps air, water and debris from getting into the home.

2. Air Infiltration and Water Leakage

After testing the window for impact, it is tested for cyclic pressures that simulate what happens to a shattered window during hurricane conditions. The window is subjected to 9,000 cycles (4,500 negatives and 4,500 positives) of inward and outward pressure. To pass the test, the window must maintain its integrity and be operable.

When buying impact resistant doors and windows, homeowners in Puerto Rico and South Florida should research the provider (manufacturer or distributor), products and approvals or certifications the provider advertises. Manufacturing and installing impact windows and doors is a complex process that calls for a team of experts who can guarantee the quality of the products and the installation.

For more information about impact resistant windows and doors, building codes, approvals and certifications, call Air Master at (787) 999-0717.